President Obama assures President Kenyatta he will visit Kenya

US President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2015. PHOTO | NICHOLAS KAMM |

What you need to know:

  • US president says "he looks forward to meeting with President Kenyatta again in Nairobi in July".
  • Leaders spoke on the phone on Friday.

NEW YORK

President Barack Obama told President Uhuru Kenyatta in a phone call on Friday that he will make good on his recently announced plan to visit Kenya.

Signalling that he is undeterred by the massacre in Garissa, Mr Obama "reiterated that he looks forward to meeting with President Kenyatta again in Nairobi in July," according to a White House summary of the two leaders' conversation.

Mr Obama also offered a ringing reaffirmation of US support for Kenya, both in his phone call to President Kenyatta and in a separate statement issued on Friday.

"We will stand hand-in-hand with the Kenyan government and people against the scourge of terrorism and in their efforts to bring communities together," Mr Obama said in his presidential statement.

'UNWAVERING FRIEND'

The White House press secretary had said on Thursday that the United States will help Kenya "take on the terrorist group Al-Shabaab."

President Obama did not say on Friday that the US intends to strike Al-Shabaab. But the summary of his phone call to President Kenyatta indicated that ways to "strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation" will be on the agenda when the heads of state confer in July.

"Even at this difficult hour," Mr Obama declared in his statement, "the Kenyan people should know they have an unwavering friend and ally in the United States of America."

Referring indirectly to his previous visits to his father's homeland, Mr Obama added, "I know first-hand the extraordinary resilience and fundamental decency of the people of Kenya."

He said he knows that Kenyans will grieve over the lives taken at Garissa, "but their determination to achieve a better and more secure future will not be deterred".

"This much is clear: the future of Kenya will not be defined by violence and terror," the president added in his statement. "It will be shaped by young people like those at Garissa University College — by their talents, their hopes, and their achievements."

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